With dreams of a marriage that brings love to her life and with dreams of happiness and prosperity, an Indian bride steps into this new threshold of her life. All her life, she’s told to avoid interacting with the boys and suddenly she’s expected to share a bed with one. All her life she’s expected to suppress and keep her sexual desires and urges under the folds and suddenly she’s expected to consummate her marriage on the first night that she spends with a complete stranger. Hypocrisy abounds every corner of the so called ‘Indian morals’. She’s expected to excel in her academics and then expected to give up all of it just when her efforts seem to bear fruit. That she will be allowed to work after her marriage will be in the hands of her in-laws and if she is allowed to do so it will be because her new family is ‘open-minded’. If she happens to earn more than what her husband does, she ends up being the victim of his ‘hurt’ ego. As someone who earns she is expected to perform both the role of a home-maker and of that of a working woman. At her work place, she is dominated, looked down upon and treated inferior. Her pay scale is not at par with that of her male counterpart. She is a victim of lecherous stares and sexual harassment and expected to deliver sexual favors. At home, after she returns, she is expected to look after the kids and the house-chores. Whereas no such think is expected from the ‘man of the house’
The big fat Indian wedding goes much beyond its name and grandeur. There’s much more to it than what meets the eye. Under the disguise of tradition and rituals the bride and her family are exploited in every possible way. The entire of expense of the marriage ceremony is expected to be borne by the bride’s family; So this one family pours in all the money and resources it has pooled over the years by breaking fixed deposits, selling assets and taking loans, to keep their respectability intact. Today, however, we do get to see marriages where both the families share the expenses but to see such marriages happen is rare. Although demanding dowry is now a crime, it is still prevalent in many parts and corners of the country and happens anyway. Much of what women have to suffer today is because of the system of dowry. Female infanticides happen because the family is unable to think of raising enough dowry when the need arises. Incidences of domestic violence inflicted by the husband or the in-laws are also mostly because of their demand for dowry. Suicides too are a result of physical and mental harassment by the groom and his family.
Incidences of child-marriage have reduced considerably because of the awareness raised and the legal repercussions however just like ‘Dahej Pratha’ it still is practiced in remote and rural areas of our country. Girls as young as 12 or 13 are married off to men more than double their age. And then they are impregnated at an age where they should be attending school and frolicking. At this tender age this pregnancy then leads to complications resulting in either the death of the mother or the child and sometimes both. The innocence and childhood of the girl is lost and she is made to bear the burden of performing the role of a wife, a daughter-in-law and a young mother.
Honor-killing is another menace which is associated closely with Indian marriages. Human Rights Watch describes Honor killings as acts of vengeance, usually death committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of sexual assault, seeking a divorce-even from an abusive husband- and marrying outside her caste. The concept of ‘caste-no-bar’ is not applicable to Indian marriages. In orthodox families if the girl/boy happens to be unfortunate enough to fall in love with the opposite sex of some other caste, all hell breaks loose. The Khap Panchayats in rural areas are the source of justice for such orthodox families. Instead of accepting their love or matrimony they find it easier to just slay them in the name of their so called ‘honor’.
In the name of marriage we have girls marrying men double their ages; we have brides harassed mentally and physically because of dowry; we have people who barely know each other sharing a bed. In the mere name of marriage we have women exploited, harassed and murdered almost every day. All this in the name of holy matrimony, the union of souls.